Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati removed Bishop Binzer from his position as head of priest personnel in August 2019, after CNA presented officials with its investigation into claims that Bishop Binzer failed to pass on reports that Fr. Drew had engaged in inappropriate behavior with teenage boys.
Bishop Binzer later resigned as a member of the U.S. bishops’ conference committee for the protection of children and young people.
Fr. Kyle Schnippel, the outgoing pastor of the Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann Pastoral Region, said he was “surprised” to be nominated for another assignment. The priest said the transition planning has already begun for Bishop Binzer.
Fr. Schnippel recounted his conversation with the bishop in a letter to parishioners at the St. John Neumann’s website.
“As I spoke to (the) bishop shortly after the announcements were made, he assured me of his excitement and joy at coming here,” Fr. Schnippel said. “The first thing he wanted me to pass along to everyone here is that he is already praying for us, for you: the parishioners of these two parishes. He has some connections here already. An aunt and uncle were parishioners at Corpus Christi for a time and he has celebrated Mass here a number of times as well. He is looking forward to getting to know you all better over the coming years.”
At the time of Bishop Binzer’s resignation, Archbishop Schnurr said the bishop would continue to serve in the archdiocese, as determined in conversations among the archbishop, the archbishop, and the priest personnel board.
“In this difficult and unfortunate time, please keep Bishop Binzer and all the people of the archdiocese in your prayers,” Archbishop Schnurr said in May 2020.
The bishop’s appointment as a pastor has drawn media attention and criticism because of his handling of misconduct reports against a priest.
In August 2019 CNA reported that Binzer was told in 2013 about allegations concerning Fr. Drew, and failed to disclose them to Archbishop Schnurr and other archdiocesan officials.
While the archdiocesan victims’ assistance coordinator, who reported to Bishop Binzer, was aware of the allegation, the information was not made known to the diocesan priest personnel board or Archbishop Schnurr.
In 2015, similar allegations were again made against Fr. Drew. The matter was forwarded to Butler County officials, who determined that the activity was not criminal. Again, Bishop Binzer reported neither the complaints nor the investigation to the archbishop or informed the priest personnel board.
Sources in the archdiocesan chancery told CNA in August 2019 that Bishop Binzer met with Fr. Drew twice, was assured by him that he would reform his conduct, and the bishop considered this sufficient.
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In early 2018, Fr. Drew applied for a transfer to St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Green Township, which is attached to the largest Catholic school in the archdiocese.
As head of priest personnel, Bishop Binzer was in charge of the process that considers requests and proposals for reassignment, in conjunction with the priest personnel board.
Neither the board nor the archbishop were made aware of the multiple complaints against Fr. Drew, and the transfer was approved.
The allegations were also reportedly not recorded by Bishop Binzer in the priest’s personnel file that would have been available to the archdiocesan personnel board as part of the process.
A month after Fr. Drew’s arrival at St. Ignatius, a parishioner at Drew’s former parish resubmitted the 2015 complaints about the priest, but this time it was also brought to the attention of Archbishop Schnurr.
Also in 2018, Bishop Binzer received an additional complaint of similarly inappropriate contact by Fr. Drew, dating to his time as a high school music teacher, before his ordination as a priest.